“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
– Proverbs 15:1
As a lot of you know, I officiate basketball at the youth and high school level. It’s a fast pace game, and over the course of any game, many decisions have to be made based on your knowledge of the rules, and how they apply to things that you observe. Do I ever make mistakes, and get things wrong – yes sometimes it happens. In the end, no matter what sport you officiate, you are never going to get all the calls right, have every coach, player or fan agree with you. This makes it very challenging, and at times puts you in situations where you have to react to something being said, and in my case recently a certain fan…
Back in December, during an 8th grade youth game – one particular father was just giving us the business about how we were calling the game. Unfortunately for him, he was being so loud and obnoxious, he was very easy to pick out of the crowd. So I did what I had to do in stopping the game, went over to the stands, and quietly asked him to take a time-out in the hallway. I told him that once you can calm yourself down, you could come back into the gym and watch the rest of the game. During halftime, when he was still out in the hallway, I went up to him and had a short conservation, addressing what had happened, and why it sets a bad example to the kids and other parents sitting in the stands. In the end we shook hands, and he came back into the gym and watched the rest of the game.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to officiate the team whose father I had kicked out of the gym. Before the game started, he came up to me and asked if he could talk to me. First he apologized for his actions that day. He went on to say that how I handled the situation, and the words of our conservation caused him to go home that day and reevaluate his actions, including what kind of example he was setting for his son and the other parents.
He even went as far as to create a checklist to monitor his actions directed at the officials. He told me he is now able to enjoy the game and watch his son play, not being reactive in anger when the officials make a call – good or bad.
Whether we are led to speak or to be silent, remember that it is our duty and privilege to represent Jesus. So how are we to speak? 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us to “give an answer to those who ask,” to do it with gentleness and respect, and to keep a clear conscience. Colossians 4:6 instruct us: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Our goal is “to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).
Confession for today: “Today Jesus I ask you to help me to set a good example in the words I speak, to quiet anger and bring peace to every situation, whether it is directed at me or another.”
Living for Today,